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Why Better, Faster Learners Are Often Better, Deeper Sleepers

A recent national survey has found that only 10% of American adults prioritize sleep over their social lives, fitness, and hobbies.  A good night’s sleep, however, has been proven to bring numerous benefits to both physical and mental health.  For those who are looking to learn a language, it’s vital. Whether it’s storing information in the brain, improving alertness and memory, or absorbing vocabulary overnight, sleep can boost the rate at which you learn.  As Mondly users are frequently aiming to supercharge their resume or brush up on a local language before travel, it can be a challenge to find time to fit learning in around work and family commitments.  This is where an app can be really useful! However you fit in your learning, it’s important not to let the quality or duration of your sleep become squeezed out.

How sleep affects learning

Several studies conducted at Harvard have demonstrated that entering the deep phase of sleep known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) brings significant benefits to learning.  Not only does it boost alertness and the ability to absorb information, but it also enables the brain to store information and solve puzzles; useful if you are trying to remember the difference between the past imperfect and perfect in another language.  Rather than being tempted to cram or squeeze your learning time into the early hours, focus instead on getting a good night’s sleep to improve your performance.  Quality sleep will also improve your mood, mental stamina, and positivity, all of which are important when it comes to tackling a new challenge such as learning a language.

Is it possible to learn overnight?

Recent research from the Universities of Zurich and Fribourg suggests that you can actually embed new vocabulary while you sleep; although it is noted that this can only be done with words you have already learned, rather than simply listening to completely new ones.  The same research suggested that the first half of the night’s sleep was the most effective period for this type of learning. You may find that this approach works for you, or you may find that uninterrupted, good quality sleep is just as, if not more, effective.

While it can be tempting to cram learning into late nights, scientists have consistently found that sleep is essential for learning.  It is particularly useful when studying a language as the brain works during sleep to organize and store information, leaving you feeling alert and refreshed in the morning, with those Russian verbs cleverly stored in your memory.  It may sound counter-intuitive, but to be a great language learner you may just need an app and your pillow.

— Written by Jane Sandwood, Contributor at Mondly

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Why Better, Faster Learners Are Often Better, Deeper Sleepers
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